Stylist’s editor-in-chief Lisa Smosarski finds a peaceful haven in a utopian village in the Cotswolds
There are pretty villages. There are idyllic villages. And then there is Kingham. The Cotswolds isn’t short of picturesque spots, but Kingham, near Chipping Norton, ticks all the utopian boxes. Spired church? Check. Village green? Check. Thatched cottages lining the pristine road? Check, check, check. And at the heart of it all, the village pub. But, to borrow a well-known phrase, this isn’t just any village pub. This is the 2015 Michelin Eating Out In Pubs Guide ‘Pub of the Year’ pub. Yes, The Wild Rabbit, pub-come-hotel-come-restaurant, is really something special.
Opened in 2013, this 18th-century inn was reconditioned by Lady Carole Bamford of Daylesford Organic and Bamford Haybarn Spa fame. Having proved herself the doyenne of elegant luxury many times over, this lovely pub follows suit. Many of its 12 bedrooms and suites are dotted around the terrace, which, in summer, is awash with lanterns and quaint wooden furniture. We stayed in The Beehive, a self-contained split-level cottage – and the type of space you leave with a brand new Pinterest board for your bedroom. The design is cosy but elegant, a wash of soothing neutrals punctuated by dark wooden beams.
Making a cup of tea and tucking into the jar of freshly made cookies is as far as we go in our little kitchenette, instead entrusting our culinary needs to the chefs at the heavily lauded restaurant. The menu is locally sourced and foraged, and our starters taste impossibly fresh. We devour a duck egg softly cooked at 65 degrees, served with truffles, morel mushrooms and lardons, as well as market vegetables with sweet roasted garlic, crispy herbs and creamy goat’s cheese. My haddock main is served with a deep-fried egg and cucumber balls, which sounds eyebrow-raising but really works. And the lemon curd sorbet is a showstopper of a dessert.
Breakfast is equally impressive, taken in the sunshine of the pub’s front garden. Our feast of pastries, brioche toast and golden scrambled eggs is only interrupted by the cooing of a wood pigeon and whoosh of a passing cyclist.
After so much good food, it would be easy to retreat to the crisp linen of your bed, but a row of Dutch bikes tempt us to explore the village and venture to Lady Bamford’s eponymous spa, just a 10-minute ride away. Shunning the fantastic yoga studio in favour of the relaxation room and a long (and stunningly good) massage, we float back to the inn, ready for round two of woman versus food. Kingham and The Wild Rabbit confirm what the Chipping Norton set have known for years: the utopian Cotswolds village does exist. Great food, beautiful interiors, stunning views and a surprising number of ways to serve eggs. And it can all be yours for a weekend.